Dundas Clock Tower a Majestic Downtown Landmark
by Stan Nowak with special thanks to Clare Crozier
This article was first published January 9th, 2004 in the Dundas Star News. Reproduced with permission of the author.
Since this article was written in 2004, the Post Office has been sold, rejuvenated, tenanted and the clocks have, once again, been made operational!
As I write this, I look out my window and see the peak of the old Post Office clock tower one block away. The clock dial that faces me is clearly visible in the late afternoon sun. I decide to go for a walk and take a closer look at it. As I approach the tower, I can appreciate the impressive architecture of the building as well as the tower.
The clock sits 100 feet above King Street in the tower of the old Dundas Post Office on 104 King Street West. It has been here for 90 years. The time reads 4:05—at least the side facing King Street does. The other three sides read different times ranging from 3:35 to 4:10. It is obvious that the old clock is not working.
In 1909, the federal government purchased the property, formerly the ‘Campbell Block’, and built the Post Office, which also housed the Customs Office. The official opening was on October 30, 1913. The new building was a Romanesque facade, which was dominated by the Venetian clock tower.
The clock was manufactured by J. Smith and Sons, Midland Clock Works of Derby, England. The bell that tolled each hour was built by John Taylor of Loughborough, England. It struck on the hour, 24 times per day by a hammer which was powered by a counterweight.
Each clock face is six feet in diameter. The hour hand is two feet, six inches in length, and the minute hand is three feet, six inches. It had a pendulum which swung on a wooden handle connected to the clock by a strip of spring steel 25/1000 of an inch thick. During the period when the clock was working, the caretaker of the Post Office wound the clock manually once every six days. He lived in an apartment on the third floor of the Post Office.
The clock ceased to keep time properly, and was restored after a decade of silence in 1979 when the Post Office was completely rebuilt. This clock was wound once a month and struck on the hour. Sometime after 1980, the clock stopped working. Exactly when and why, I’m not sure. If any reader out there can enlighten me, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org., or through the Dundas Star News.
Today, the clock is still, the pendulum swings no more, and the bell no longer tolls. The building itself is a ghostly trace of its former self. But the noble Venetian tower, even with the still-life clock, is still a majestic feature in the streetscape of downtown Dundas today.